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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Santa Fe
    Posts
    4

    Tell me about these valves

    I just bought a new house and I am trying to sort out the hydronic system. The house was built in 1978, and a lot of the work seems to be owner/brother in law type stuff. However, the heat does work, so that is a good start. There are four zones - two upstairs running baseboards and two downstairs heating the slab. After the first month's bill that showed 226 therms, I want to have a little bit better control over the system (also, of course I am doing things like sealing up the 3/4" gaps in the windows, etc.)



    Issue #1: upstairs bedroom heat never really goes full on (baseboard warm, but not producing a lot), and it also does not shut off if any other zone is on, even if its thermostat is not calling for heat. I think the culprit is the zone valve. I went ahead and bought a taco zone control unit (shown partially installed in the pic) to help sort out and diagnose these issues, and it shows a call for heat but the zone valve not open. Could it be stuck partway open? I bought a new zone valve with the hope of switching out the powerheads, but it started losing water when I unscrewed it, so I guess I will have to replace the whole valve, requiring me to drain the system. Does it sound like I am on the right track?



    Issue #2: what is this valve called and how does it work?



    Is it a 90 degree turn from full on to full off, or is it more complicated than that?

    It is one of 8 circuits on two different zone manifolds. I am trying to isolate an unused guest bed and bath. Also, my stepmother keeps her house at 58 degrees and freaks out when ours is 70, and she is coming to stay and I'd like all of us to be comfortable. I have been playing around figuring out which valves on the manifold control which floor areas. I have turned off (I think) the two valves for those two circuits. However, they are still a little warm a day and a half later. I would think that a lot of heat is stored and I just need to give it more time, but the tubing for that circuit is also still warm to the touch. Could some water still be leaking through, or is the warmth maybe the warmer water in the circuit stratifying to the highest spot next valve? Also, I would like to eventually make the guest area its own zone - can I just install a zone valve on that single circuit, so it's kind of a sub-zone?

    I'm sure to have plenty more questions, but I appreciate any help you can offer with these for starters.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    4,576
    While you sound like you have a basic handle on things, there are too many variables to get it right over the internet.

    You really need to find a local competent boiler company to go through the system and explain it to you.
    The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and stamps EVER.
    Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals". Their stated reason for this policy "... the animals become dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."
    from an excerpt by Paul Jacob in Sun City, AZ

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    4,803
    The valve with the slot is to manually balance flow. That rats nest of wiring for the zone system needs attention for sure.
    A good HVAC tech knows how, an educated HVAC tech knows why!

    DEM


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Northern Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,934
    As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words. Your words explained a lot too.

    Where to start..............

    Being that it's a new home and it has a heating system that you're not sure of what your looking at (in some instances) may I suggest that you call in a professional to look things over and give you an assessment as to how it's performing and what they see as things that either need fixing now and things that can be improved on. If nothing else you should come away from the visit with all safety items being confirmed as functioning properly and a crash course on hydronic heating systems.

    From your first picture I see 2 things at a glance that concern me from a safety standpoint. I see what looks to be a pressure relief valve on your boiler that is plumbed wrong. I also see signs of improper venting/burning of your water heater. Those two things both fall into the category of "can cause serious injury or death" in any instruction or book.

    The zone heating problems could be due to the zone valves, controls malfunctioning or not wired correctly, piping mistakes, circulator issues or a host of other things. If what you have is the copper fin tube radiators they should become room temperature in about an hour at most. If they aren't, you still have flow through those zones when you think you shouldn't.

    What you are more than likely seeing is a system that has not been properly serviced in years at best or worse, since it was installed.

    As for shutting off a zone.... be very careful doing this. If you have below freezing temperatures outside and the zone piping never gets any heat you could potentially freeze the copper pipes up and burst them. I've had to repair breaks like this and the repairs are never inexpensive, and that's just the repairs to the heating system. Remember your heating system has liquid in it and a connection to the houses water supply. Just because the radiators are in the living space, don't assume that all the piping to and from them are run through a heated area.
    Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Upper Michigan
    Posts
    3,587
    Good catch on the water heater firecontol. I wonder where both of them reliefs are piped to? I'm seeing infloor tube and maybe some fintube and I don't see a mixing valve of any sort but maybe it's out of sight. From what I see you really should get a tech out just to check it over.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    4,576
    both reliefs being piped up and outside the room is a concern?

    I have seen it a few times and actually had an inspector require it.

    so is it just that you cannot see where it terminates that is a concern or something else?
    The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and stamps EVER.
    Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals". Their stated reason for this policy "... the animals become dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."
    from an excerpt by Paul Jacob in Sun City, AZ

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    4,803
    I took a little more time to look at the photo and try to figure out what's there. The twin circulators in series look like they would work against each other and create flow path problems because of the intersecting return lines betwen them. At any rate, find a good hydronics tech and have him go over the system with you to trace it out. Us taking pot shots at it won't help you much I'm afraid.
    A good HVAC tech knows how, an educated HVAC tech knows why!

    DEM


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    Northern Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,934
    Relief valves need to discharge by gravity to a safe location.
    Another one of those things you know, but don't necessarily know why you know it or can't easily reference the section and paragraph.

    For that reason I always discharge the relief down (gravity) and terminate not less than 6" from the floor. It's the same knowledge base that mandates that all reliefs physically need to be installed vertically. It has to do with keeping them free of obstructions and debris on both sides. I guess the union could be considered a makeshift way of allowing for testing and then insuring the discharge was empty afterwards. Just another good reason to have a local qualified tech look things over, hopefully one that is up on the local code requirements.

    If there isn't a drain in the room for it to drain to then I strongly suggest that one be installed or make sure you have good insurance. In a few instances I've placed a large low profile tub for the relief to discharge to and then put a modified condensate pump (hole saw some holes in the sides of the and sit a brick on top of the unit) to pump away to a drain in another location.
    Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,087
    Am I mistaken, or are the circulators supposed to pump "away" from the boiler? From what I see in the OP photo, the two circulators are pumping into the boiler. Also, as heaterman said, with two lines branching off the pipe connecting the two circulators in series, is the thought that the pump nearest the boiler has a larger GPM capacity than the smaller one?
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Santa Fe
    Posts
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by pacnw View Post
    While you sound like you have a basic handle on things, there are too many variables to get it right over the internet.

    You really need to find a local competent boiler company to go through the system and explain it to you.


    Thank you, this is good advice

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Santa Fe
    Posts
    4
    Thank you. The home inspector had a few comments, but you are right that I should get a pro to look at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by firecontrol View Post
    As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words. Your words explained a lot too.

    Where to start..............

    Being that it's a new home and it has a heating system that you're not sure of what your looking at (in some instances) may I suggest that you call in a professional to look things over and give you an assessment as to how it's performing and what they see as things that either need fixing now and things that can be improved on. If nothing else you should come away from the visit with all safety items being confirmed as functioning properly and a crash course on hydronic heating systems.

    From your first picture I see 2 things at a glance that concern me from a safety standpoint. I see what looks to be a pressure relief valve on your boiler that is plumbed wrong. I also see signs of improper venting/burning of your water heater. Those two things both fall into the category of "can cause serious injury or death" in any instruction or book.

    The zone heating problems could be due to the zone valves, controls malfunctioning or not wired correctly, piping mistakes, circulator issues or a host of other things. If what you have is the copper fin tube radiators they should become room temperature in about an hour at most. If they aren't, you still have flow through those zones when you think you shouldn't.

    What you are more than likely seeing is a system that has not been properly serviced in years at best or worse, since it was installed.

    As for shutting off a zone.... be very careful doing this. If you have below freezing temperatures outside and the zone piping never gets any heat you could potentially freeze the copper pipes up and burst them. I've had to repair breaks like this and the repairs are never inexpensive, and that's just the repairs to the heating system. Remember your heating system has liquid in it and a connection to the houses water supply. Just because the radiators are in the living space, don't assume that all the piping to and from them are run through a heated area.

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